(CNN)Missouri deer hunters donated nearly 350,000 pounds of venison to food banks and pantries across the state this season, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) said in a news release.
Missouri hunters donated nearly 350,000 pounds of deer meat to food banks this season
The hunters donated the meat to Missouri's Share the Harvest program, which provides "lean, healthy" venison to help feed hungry Missourians.
"Hunters started Share the Harvest because they saw a need in their communities and hunters remain the driving force behind this popular program that helps feed our fellow Missourians who are in need," MDC director Sara Parker Pauley said in a statement.
"We sincerely thank the thousands of deer hunters who support Share the Harvest, along with the many participating meat processors and sponsors who help make it possible."
The program, coordinated by MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), was launched in 1992. Since then, more than 4.3 million pounds of meat has been ground, packaged and donated to people in need. The fees to process and package the meat are covered by local sponsors throughout the state.
"We greatly appreciate the hunters, processors, and sponsors for their support of Share the Harvest," CFM executive director Tyler Schwartze said in the news release. "The donated venison stays in the local areas where the deer were harvested so it truly is helping out neighbors in need."
Anyone in Missouri who needs meat from Share the Harvest can contact their local food pantry.